Privilege to be Broken
Last weekend, I put my back out. Just like that, it slipped from relatively healthy to elderly-frail.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Strangely, only hours before the incident, I was retelling the tale of when it happened a few years ago in Vancouver. I was at the bouldering gym and my game was off, but I couldn’t figure out why. By the time I arrived home, I couldn’t walk, my back was so out of wack. I had a minor emotional breakdown that evening and recall thinking, “it’s because we store our emotional energy in our hips.” This thought just made me more upset! When did I become so BC that I entertained these sort of ideas?
This past weekend when it went out, I was on my way to have sushi and a sleepover with a friend to catch up, having just returned from Vancouver to live in Nova Scotia again. It had been almost a month since I returned home, and I still wasn’t feeling fully settled.
Change is difficult. From BC to NS, or healthy to broken. Change isn’t easy. But I had committed to this evening with a friend, and here I was, broken.
My friend is a personal trainer and athlete. A few months ago, she ruptured her achilles. This meant some downtime, time off work and a slow recovery. As soon as I returned to NS, I noticed a change in her general demeanour. She seemed to have disengaged from the negative; she had let things go. Throughout our evening, I had to let her take care of me. She carried our stuff, fed me, and physically helped me move. I had to ask her to slow down; despite the fact that she was still slow on her one leg, I couldn’t keep up! Our relationship had shifted as generally I am the nurturer.
As she nurtured, she told me all about the workshops and readings and personal work she had done during her recovery. She took her injury and allowed it to become a time of both psychical and spiritual rehabilitation. She expressed enthusiasm about her new milestone: being able to run again, rather than complaining about her injury. She was committing to journaling and a reading plan with a family member. Throughout the night, I felt cared for and supported, and I believe she felt happy to be able to be the one who could support, after months of being slowed down.
Reflecting, I realized I had spent my opportunity being off work during the move focusing on the difficult aspects of change, rather than the opportunity for growth. I wasn’t doing the work.
So, the next morning I started my day by making a healthy breakfast. I sat outside, not bothering to perfect my space, leaving wet soccer gear strewn as it was. After eating, I brought down the sunflower seeds to feed the chipmunk I have been trying to lure into my life, but previously without taking the time to be patient with the process. I shook the container, alerting it that I was there and today, I sat patiently and waited. He came out of his hiding spot and we watched each other, from about four feet away, as he gathered all the seeds off the little wooden chair into his cheeks, ran off to hide them in his hole. He then returned to watch me as I sat patiently, holding out my hand with more seeds. He didn’t approach, but he was curious, standing on his hind legs, tipping his head back and forth. In 15 minutes, we went from him hiding and poking his nose out, to a comfort level of sitting, curious and quiet. He then bounded off, hopping like a bunny through the wet, unmowed grass.
I wandered around the yard, looking at the sunflower that had just blossomed, watching a large, red-headed woodpecker work at a tree and just enjoying myself in nature.
As I refilled my coffee cup, I knew I had refilled my own cup simply by focusing on what I have. Being broken means I cannot rush, which gives me the opportunity to be still, something I struggle with. Nothing dramatic has changed. We haven’t solved the issues with the changes to our small business taxes or tackled climate change, but we simply saw our privilege and took it in, rather than taking it for granted.
The TED talk by Emily Esfahani Smith discusses the idea of transcendence as of the pillars of meaning. It also addresses how to recreate your narrative to tell a redemptive story.
Are you laid up and looking for some inspiration? The following are some reads I am reading during my recovery:
Have any stories of how an injury or negative experience helped you grow? Contact me, I would love to hear it!
Also, my challenge for the week is to come up with the name for the chipmunk. Suggestions are welcome!